British women trade unionists on strike at Bryant & May, 1888

Present day sources

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Since the mid 1990's the historian and author, Dr Louise Raw, has extensively researched the strike of 1888. Over the following years, her investigations lead her to conclude that the traditionally accepted leader of the strike, Annie Besant, actually had minimal involvement with its organisation and execution. Indeed, Besant was opposed to the strike given the apparent dispensability of unskilled labour. Rather, the strike was lead from within by around fourteen hundred of Bryant & May's own employees. More than this, there is evidence to suggest that the strike offered inspiration to the famous Great Dock strikers of 1889, many of whom involved were known to the matchwomen. The documents here include notes made by Raw in 2004 following two interviews with the granddaughter of one of the 'ring-leaders' of the strike, Mary Driscoll. There is also a Hansard transcript from a parliamentary debate held in October 2013, which gives due recognition to the matchwomen and their role in changing the fortunes of women and their relationship with the British labour movement.

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Interview notes

  • Contributor: Louise Raw
  • Reference: 72993f-01
  • Keyword:  politics activism women history protest unions workers
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Hansard transcript

  • Contributor: Louise Raw
  • Reference: 72993f-02
  • Keyword:  politics activism women history protest unions workers
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